Health News Roundup

Black women and the pandemic, and more in this week’s roundup

Black women and the pandemic: A crisis within a crisis
Nicquel Terry Ellis and Adrienne Broaddus, CNN, Aug. 25
The U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed countries, and Black women are more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than any other demographic group. Advocates and Black mothers fighting for birth equity fear that the pandemic could make things worse. Pregnant women remain at high risk for severe complications and hospitalization if they contract COVID-19, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has strengthened its recommendation for them to get vaccinated.

The Black mortality gap, and a document written in 1910
Anna Flagg, The New York Times, Aug. 30
Black Americans die at higher rates than white Americans at nearly every age. This gap is centuries old and has many interrelated causes, including disparate treatment in health care. Some clues to why health care is failing Black Americans can be found in a document written over 100 years ago: the Flexner Report. While much has changed since the report, it has been estimated that there are 30,000 fewer Black doctors today because of these standards.
Related: Opinion: Why we need a Black breastfeeding weekLaBrisa Williams, The Black Wall Street Times, Aug. 16

Who is unvaccinated against COVID-19 in Connecticut? They are young, urban, rural, conservative, people of color – and all are skeptical
Alex Putterman, The Hartford Courant, Aug. 29 
Despite a high vaccination rate (84%) of residents 12 and older, hundreds of thousands of eligible Connecticut residents continue to decline inoculation. Officials remain hopeful that vaccine holdouts can be convinced to get their shots. But first, it is critical to understand who they are and the nature of their concerns.

Five decades later, Medicare might cover dental care
Margot Sanger-Katz, The New York Times, Aug. 29
Nearly half of Americans 65 and over didn’t visit a dentist in the last year, and nearly one in five have lost all their natural teeth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There’s growing evidence that dental problems can worsen other conditions that Medicare does cover. Now, Congress is considering adding dental benefits to Medicare for the first time. If passed, this policy shift could challenge America’s norms about what should be covered under health insurance.

Lead testing rates in children have dropped since the start of the pandemic
Jareliz Diaz, Record-Journal, Aug. 28
Health officials are raising concern about a dramatic drop in testing for lead exposure that has resulted from the precautions necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic. Children of color are considered to be at particular risk for lead exposure. In Connecticut, data show that among children under six with a confirmed blood test in 2017, Hispanics were 1.4 times more likely to have moderate or greater levels of lead poisoning than non-Hispanics. The disparity has decreased in recent years but persists.